Galileo and the Numbers Game at Franklin Institute

Galileo Telescope
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Pure science has had to justify itself somewhat at the Franklin Institute in recent years. When the museum's addition, the Futures Center, opened in the 1990s, attendance jumped, but only briefly. Since then the Franklin has turned to travelling shows to boost visitorship. Some are only maginally related to science.

And so it's been instructive to see how well the current Galileo show is doing - and more than a little satisfying to Franklin watchers who think pure science can bring in decent numbers when a show is smartly conceived and promoted (as this one was). In fact, Galileo is up at the same time as a Star Trek show, and Galileo is doing better. CEO/president Dennis Wint told me yesterday it's been seen by 100,000 visitors.

"It's exceeded our goals," said Wint. "This was a new venture for us, having a historical exhibition with a lot of important scientific instruments but not what our typical visitor expects with a hands-on special exhibition. The media in particular has been very good in telling the story."

Both shows close in September. Then, in October, Body Worlds moves back in.